NORWALK -- New Canaan came into Monday afternoon's game against Norwalk down its top starting pitcher, while the Bears had their No. 1 starter on the mound and were looking to overcome a sluggish performance against city rival Brien McMahon.

It was Andrew Tropeano who looked like the No.1 pitcher on Monday, though, escaping jam after jam, and the Rams got clutch hits from the top of their lineup to post a 9-6 over Norwalk at City Hall Field.

After Norwalk battled back to tie the game at 4 in the fifth, the big bats in the New Canaan lineup came through in a huge way in the top of the sixth. Ninth-place hitter Casey Ouellette started off the inning with a leadoff walk on four pitches. Casey Armstrong followed that by reaching on a fielder's choice, leaving runners at first at second.

Nick Bamatter followed with a walk, bringing up Jeff Spindel, who was already 2-for-3 on the day with an RBI. He lined a single to right field, scoring one and leaving the bases loaded for Alex Farina, who hit a long double to right field to plate two more runs and give the Rams a 7-4 lead.

In the top of the seventh, Armstrong and Bamatter struck again, as Armstrong drove in a run with a deep double to right, and Bamatter hit a sacrifice fly to plate another, giving the Rams what turned out to be two important insurance runs.

"They swung the bats well, we can hit a little bit if we swing the bat. They came out aggressive, they did what they were supposed to do, it was nice to see it, top to bottom everybody did what they were supposed to do," New Canaan coach Mitch Hoffman said. "We still made some mistakes and we have to correct them, but I'm happy that they came out aggressive and that's the most impressive thing to me. It's not that they hit the ball as well as they did, but that they came out aggressive."

It wasn't all about the bats, though. Pitching for an injured Willie Ouellette, Tropeano was solid for five innings, keeping the Bears lineup off balance with his fastball and off-speed pitches. He never had a 1-2-3 inning, but he never let the Bears do any significant damage either.

Norwalk twice had the bases loaded with no one out, once against Tropeano and once against Farina, who came in for the sixth and seventh innings. Twice the Bears, with the middle of their lineup at the plate, ended the inning without scoring a run.

In the third, the Bears loaded the bases the traditional way, with the top three batters in their lineup reaching base with a walk and two singles, bringing up cleanup hitter and junior captain Kevin Daniele. Tropeano induced a comebacker to the mound for an easy 1-2-3 double play. He then got Leon Fleming to line out to first to end the threat.

"He was not pitching today when we started the season, he picked us up big time. Tropeano was not slated to start and he did a great job against I think one of the best teams in the FCIAC and definitely one of the best pitchers (in Norwalk's Jonathan Cohen)," Hoffman said.

In the sixth, after New Canaan took a three-run lead, it looked as if no lead would be safe. The Bears loaded the bases again, this time starting the No. 9 hitter Mike Parlanti. Junior captain Nick Millimam came up first with a chance to cut the lead, but he popped up to second base.

Daniele followed his pop up with one of his own, also to second base. Then Fleming, who earlier in the game hit a soaring triple to deep right field, popped up to third base to end the threat.

"We left a lot of guys on base we missed some opportunities, but I can't fault them, they're trying the best they can, and we'll find a hole here and there to score the runs next time," Norwalk coach Angelo Bruno said. "We had the guys up we wanted up and it just didn't happen. It wasn't our game today."

Norwalk scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Farina ended the game with a strikeout before Millimam could get to the plate as the tying run.

Making the loss even more disappointing for the Bears was the fact their ace, senior lefty Jonathan Cohen, was on the mound. The senior captain struggled though, giving up two quick runs in the first inning and, despite six strikeouts in three innings, he never seemed to get comfortable. Cohen was pulled after about 80 pitches in the top of the fourth inning, having given up two runs.

"He puts a lot on his shoulders and he didn't have his best day, but baseball's not about how you deal with success, it's how you rebound on a bad day and it happens, we have to try and score some more runs the next time we come out there," Bruno said.

The Rams next take on Stamford Saturday afternoon, a home game. The Bears play their next two on the road, against Danbury on Wednesday and Darien on Friday.

GAME NOTES: Armstrong finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI, two stolen bases and two runs scored from the leadoff spot ... Spindel was 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Farina reached base three times and had 2 RBI and a stolen base ... John Lautenbach replaced Cohen and pitched three innings before giving way to Will Marr in the final frame ... James Cooksey was 3-for-4 for the Bears with two runs scored and an RBI.